Here’s the short answer: it depends.

I know, I don’t like that answer any more than you do, but it’s true. It ultimately depends on what your goals are and what your overall vision is. If you’re okay with going with a small press, self-publishing, or even hybrid, the size of your platform won’t be a huge deal. If you want the big, flashy book deal with a top publisher in New York City, then generally speaking, you’ll need a minimum of five figures (I’ll explain why in a bit).

Think of it this way: the bigger the dream = the bigger the platform.

Some people launch their first book when they already have an audience and some do it to build an audience. It’s kind of a chicken-and-the-egg situation, which is why I say it depends on what your version of success.

What do publishers look for in a platform?

So let’s say you do want the big, flashy book deal from a top publisher in New York City (or you’re just curious to know). What will they be interested to see?

They’ll be looking at your…

The reason they’re interested in your platform is because they want to sell books, and they especially like it when you are able to sell your own books because that means it’s less work for them.

The ultimate dream is to have a selection of backlist titles (AKA, books that aren’t new) that is so successful, they continue passively selling. They want your book to have amazing word of mouth, which is why they lean on platform so much.

Here’s a question though: do you think the emphasis should be on follower count or engagement rate?


A lot of industry figures are arguing that 30,000 followers does not necessarily mean 30,000 sales. Maybe a percentage of them will happen to see that you’ve published a book. Wouldn’t it make sense to have a community who loves what you do and wants to support it, even if it’s just 300?

Word of mouth snowballs as a result of authentic interaction.

What do you think? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

Simple ways to build a platform…

So whether you want a fancy book deal, seek to increase your influence, or just get a good conversation going with a variety of people, here are three simple steps you can take to build your platform as a budding writer:

  1. Build a Simple Website
    1. I built mine on Squarespace for $250/yr and had it for years. You can also do Wix or even Google Sites (free) to get you started.
    2. You should still have one under your name even if you haven’t published before (personal websites and business sites, if you have one, should always remain separate)
  2. Develop a Basic Brand
    1. All you’re doing with a brand is answering 3 questions: What do you want to say? How do you want to say it? Who do you want to say it to?
    2. How does your writing, book, blog, newsletter, etc. support those questions?
  3. Be a Resource for Others
    1. If you need more of a writing history to show off to publishers, here are a few ways to get started:
      1. Pitch a condensed version of your book idea or brand to small, indie magazines to (1) get published and (2) test its marketability
      2. Contribute to any local publications (ex: newspapers or journals)
      3. If you’re in school, ask your profs if you can contribute to any research papers their writing in exchange for a co-author slot (don’t they need research assistants anyway?)
      4. Do some freelance writing on Upwork or Fiverr (great way to earn $ too)
      5. Consider signing up for HARO to be a source for journalists
      6. Collab with any creatives for guest posts on blogs and newsletters

Final Thoughts

I know this is getting long, but here’s the bottom line:

Marketing is a marathon, especially if you’re wanting to grow organically. It’s essential for long-term community-building, influence-expansion, and engagement. Like many things in life, consistency is the key.

And if I had to give you one bit of advice, based on everything I’ve learned, it’s that it’s okay to start small. In fact, it’s probably best if you do because that allows you to intentionally grow in the direction you want and make insignificant mistakes and adjustments along the way. If you have a huge viral moment and have a sudden influx of attention, it’s harder to adjust to the change and try new things without confusion or repercussions.

Good luck!

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